TODAY   |  September 16, 2013

Husband, wife lose more than 500 pounds

TODAY nutritionist Joy Bauer welcomes husband and wife Justin and Lauren Shelton into the Joy Fit Club, after they lost a combined 502 pounds by swapping out unhealthy foods and encouraging each other on the journey.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> we're back with "look at me now, the joy fit club ," and a husband and wife whose lives were overshadowed by their weight.

>> they decided to get fit the old-fashioned way, changed their diet, started exercising and together they lost more than 520 pounds.

>> get your head around that for a minute. 520 pounds! we're going to meet them in a moment, but first let's listen to their incredible story.

>> my name is lauren .

>> my name is justin .

>> i was always bigger than the other kids. the bigger i got, the more awkward, shy and introverted i became.

>> i suffered a knee injury while playing football. and once that exercise was gone, i began to gain weight. i became ashamed and extremely self-conscious.

>> i ate the wrong foods and way too much of them.

>> food was like that friend who was always there to support you. food never called me names or was mean to me.

>> when we were married in 2008 , i weighed over 300 pounds.

>> and i was over 450 pounds.

>> it snowballed from there.

>> but we just didn't care.

>> in january of 2012 , my husband had a horrible kidney infection .

>> i had to rush to the emergency room .

>> he weighed too much on the machine to scan his kidneys.

>> what if it had been something more serious? what then? and i decided to have a conversation with my wife about getting healthy.

>> i realized i was in the same situation. i was 25 years old and weighed 341 pounds. lynn is a physician's assistant. she guided us on what to eat.

>> i lost my first 100 pounds in about five months. we joined a gym.

>> over 19 months, we've lost more than 520 pounds together. our personalities changed instead of going out to a restaurant, we went to get outside and go for a hike. we are bold, brave and adventurous.

>> oh, my god! joy is with us now to tell us about it.

>> anybody that is looking for a huge shot of inspiration is watching right now because --

>> this is it.

>> this couple has seen all of these stories, and this is unbelievable.

>> this is truly a special story. but how did they do it?

>> how did they do it, joy?

>> they literally just swapped out the toxic, fattening food for healthy, energizing low-calorie alternatives. so just as an example, breakfast. so justin used to eat three eggs overeasy, lots of bacon, biscuits. actually, this is lauren 's. with the gravy on top.

>> gravy and biscuits?

>> yeah. 1200 calories. and this, lots of pancakes. this was justin 's. sausage again with the eggs and lots of syrup. so check out what they do now. they make sweet potato protein pancakes. they take a microwaved sweet potato , skin off, mash it with a little bit of egg substitute. two tablespoons and half a scoop of whey protein with turkey bacon. it's delicious, it's filling. 520 pounds down.

>> we've got to meet them.

>> here are lauren and justin before. all right, lauren and justin , come join the "joy fit club ." oh, my gosh! no, no, no, no.

>> wait a minute. where are lauren and justin ? where are they?

>> wow!

>> look at this. i can't believe it. you're right. joy said this is the best "joy fit ever," and she's right. how much time did it take you guys to lose all that weight?

>> it really just took us a year and a half. february of 2012 .

>> no potions, the good old-fashioned way.

>> i bet you fell more and more in love as you embarked on this journey together, right?

>> mm-hmm. it really strengthens you when you've got something hard ahead of you and you do it together.

>> and friends and family must be out of their minds looking at you guys and how healthy you are now.

>> yeah, we had some family members we hadn't seen in a long time. they haven't even recognized us.

>> we are so proud of you. thank you so much. thanks for coming to see us.

>> what is your inspiration for people who think they've gone too far and can't get back.

>>> coming up, james blunt is going to sing for us.

>> this is "today" on nbc.